Updated: Sep 25
Mindfulness and the Environment: Developing a Conscious Relationship with Mother Nature
This Weeks Video
You might recall that the EAP Mentor definition of mindfulness is remembering in each moment that you have a choice to be kinder to yourself, to others and to the planet. To maintain this notion, and even entertain it in the first place is a values exercise. One of the core concepts of life is that we will always invest out time and resources in whatever it is that we value most. In our western culture, having more wealth, power, success, and love are the four key things we typically value the most. These become the measures that our ego uses to establish its sense of worth or worthlessness. As such, these are the things in which we invest our time and resources, that channels our thinking, feelings, desires and behaviours, which results in our experiences of pleasure or suffering.
The issue with the way most of us relate to the environment is that it isn’t something we value. That means we typically minimise the investment of any time or resource regarding the environment. That being the case, it becomes part of the fodder, the consumables that are inadvertently tied to the unsustainable values that we unconsciously seek, as discussed previously. Unless there is something in it for ‘us’, there is little motive to become more aware of the way our programmed lifestyle impacts not only on ourselves and other people, but also on the planet.
One of the key elements of successful change is enhanced awareness. Awareness is the result of being better informed, having more knowledge and understanding. As the adage goes, you can’t change what you can’t see. And inversely, quantum physics says that when something is observed it changes. There is a concept which entertains the idea that for change to occur en masse, all that is required is the ‘buy-in’ of a critical mass. There are lots of variations on the actual figure that defines a critical mass, ranging from 3% to 25% of a collective. A buy-in requires awareness, and awareness, as previously stated, is the result of people having more knowledge and understanding, hopefully with a dollop of wisdom.
With the proliferation of social media today, the capacity to reach a global critical mass regarding being more aware of the environment is unprecedented. Just in the last five years, the likes of Swedish teenage, environmental activist, Greta Thunberg has achieved just that. Pre Covid, there was a global awakening to the environmental cause just because of this young lady. David Attenborough, along with others, had been at it for years, but in terms of an impact that actually ‘moved’ people globally to act, it needed Greta and social media.
In 2019, she was presented with seven prestigious awards and was named Time Magazine Person of the Year. It was called ‘The Greta Effect’. How many of you are familiar with a Swedish Olympian biathlete, Björn Ferry? In 2017/18 he started the Flygskam, an anti-flying movement promoting train travel over flying in order to help reduce the accelerating greenhouse emissions created by the airline industry. Flight Shame took on a global awareness when Thunberg refused to fly on environmental grounds. If The Greta Effect did in fact reach a critical mass, the conclusion could be drawn that it would create an actual global change. When a strong emotion like fear or love is added to the mix, it would appear to super-charge the impact.
So, given what was going on in 2019 re the global awakening and active engagement in being more aware of the environment, and given that it appeared to reach a critical mass, the conclusion could be drawn that it would be enough to initiate a global shift. I know this is a rhetorical question, but did we see a significant reduction in greenhouse emissions in 2020? Was it just a coincidence that Covid 19 and Greta appeared at the same time, or was it a result of the laws of quantum physics, that are bigger than Covid 19 and Greta?
Given that this enhanced environmental awareness had reached a critical mass, and was primarily fuelled by fear, the result was global suffering. What if that awareness was fed by love, respect and honouring of the mother we call earth? What if people became more aware and mindful of the loving choices for how they relate to the planet? What if there was a reverence for the planet as modelled by St Francis, the Cathars and the Beguines from medieval times? What if every time we travelled, made food choices or used sources of power, we stopped for a moment and asked ourselves the question, “Is what I am about to do loving towards the planet and its environment?”
What if on arising and moving throughout your day you actually experienced the awe of a sunrise, the beauty and fragrance flowers, felt the energy of the trees and the wonder of birds, their flight and song? What if you were to grow, prepare and eat your food with gratitude, while declaring the food mantra, YUM!?
In the early Catholic tradition, the six corporal Works of Mercy were oriented towards social justice. Feed the hungry, visit the sick etc. Just recently, Pope Francis suggested that a seventh Work of Mercy needed to be added; care for the environment! What we hold in adoration we care for. You’ll see guys (typically) who have a car or a motorbike which sits at the centre of their attention. The energy they expend in keeping their pride and joy tiptop often knows no limits. In today’s world there are two closely related aspects of our human experience that have been equally ignored, women and the environment. We need to know no limits in our adoration of both women and the environment. They go hand-in-hand. And I am not just talking to men in this regard.
This can be achieved by adopting the minute-by-minute practice of being mindful. That is remembering in each moment that you have a choice to be more loving to yourself, to others and to the planet.
Read More From This Series
Over the upcoming months we will cover several other topics on how to apply mindfulness in 'every day' situations. If you would like to receive these blogs directly to you inbox as they are released, enter your detail at the bo